In case anyone doesn't know let me just clarify that Nephy Hart and Cheryl Headford are the same person, just that Nephy writes more grown up books (with more sex in them) I thought about posting Nephy stuff here, but Enigma isn't a very rude book, apart from one horrible scene which really isn't about sex at all, and to be fair, Ari has some sexy scenes too, so I thought on balance it was safe to post here. You need to use your discretion though.
ENIGMA RE RELEASE
ARI FULL NOVEL
NOTE THIS PAINTING HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE BOOK AT ALL, IT JUST MAKES ME THINK OF ARI. THE WONDERFUL COVER WILL BE REVEALED SOON!!!
First, let's take a look at Ari. I'm very excited about this book because it is my first attempt to write about trans/intersex. There has been a lot of publicity lately about the struggles of the trans community and especially young people struggling with their identity, and society's reaction to it. I have long advocated that readily available books, films, television programs etc with characters just like them, getting a happy ending, would be of positive benefit to young gay people, and I absolutely believe that to be true. I also believe the same thing applies to all other shades of the rainbow, and if lesbians and gays are underrepresented, trans and intersex are all but invisible.
The book started as an exploration of the definition of 'Stranded' for the WIP anthology of that name
Stranded Anthology I wanted to get away from the usual idea of someone being stuck somewhere physically and go in a less traditional direction. Ari and Benji were supposed to both be transgendered, but oh no, while Benji was happy to oblige, Ari was having none of that and revealed himself to be intersex, and wasn't so much stranded as happy to straddle the line.
Benji is nineteen years old. He's known pretty much all his life that he isn't the same as everyone else...or at least everyone he knows. Over the years he's tried on different labels, but nothing really fit, until he tried on the trans label at sixteen and found it fit better than anything he could have imagined. Unfortunately it lost him his father and his home, but it was worth it...kind of. Now, he's pretty sure he's trans...maybe.
Ari is eighteen and intersex. He has neither male nor female genitalia or internal reproductive organs. Thank goodness his parents were strong enough to resist the urges of the doctors when he was born, to make a decision and construct a gender for him, because he's more than happy to have neither and both. Sometimes he's a girl; mostly he's a boy, and he's very happy with that...when he's at home with his family. Out in the world he's not so sure - until he meets Benji at a writers convention in Bristol.
I believe this is an unique story and one that will be either loved or hated. Whilst Benji and Ari both bend and blur the definition of gender, I suspect it is in a rather unique and very individual way - Ari more than Benji I think. One of the things I wanted to show is that there's no one way to being who you really are, and labels, while useful definitely do not fit all. I'm hoping it will stretch minds and make people think a little more.
The short story from Stranded has been expanded into a full length novel and took some very sharp twists and turns that I never saw at the start. The final direction was shocking to say the least. I think that, quite possibly, it's those who have read the original story who will find themselves more surprised by the new stuff than those who haven't. (note the highly technical language 'stuff'.)
This was the first book I ever released courtesy of the wonderful Red Haircrow There are actually now five books written (almost) although only two are in anything near publishable condition.
Enigma is the story of Matthew Hart (yes, he's my husband. What? No? Aww) otherwise known by his slave name of Silver. I am totally and absolutely in love with him and I hope that comes through in the writing.
I love this story more than any other I've written and I want to do Silver the justice he deserved. Not having the luxury of a full editing service, I have had to do the best I can. I was recently fortunate enough to be able to afford editing help from B Z Hercules who I've found to be amazing to work with. I have therefore refined Enigma and hopefully corrected some of the awful grammar that I thought was okay at the start.
To celebrate Red designed an amazing new cover, which is more in line with the cover of Book II which he also designed. WARNING Book II is a WIP as far as editing is concerned. Obviously you're more than welcome to buy it, but BZ haven't worked their magic yet.
In order to prove to you what an amazing person Silver is, I've interviewed him. I hope you love him as much as I do
What colour do you like best to paint with?
This is a difficult one. Apart from River, my art is the most important thing in my life and I get so lost in it that I’m not really thinking about what colours I’m using. I get an idea for a painting and then I just paint it. I don’t plan paintings in advance so I don’t plan colours.
Blue and purple are my favourite colours… well and that really nice shade of green that’s almost blue, and rose pink, and the really deep red that I use to shade red roses, and the green that accents trees in spring, and the yellow that I use for highlighting hair and sometimes on the sun and lots of things that the sun touches in bright paintings.
My paintings are lighter than they used to me, not so dark anyway. River has a lot to do with that, because he makes me feel lighter. But, I think purple and blue are my favourites… kind of… sometimes. I really like painting skies with purple and pink. I like the way that light reflects on the underside of clouds and then kind of bleeds into sky and any water that’s around. It’s nice to use oils and acrylics to paint those pictures because the paints blend really nicely and… Oh. River tells me I’m getting off the point. I do that a lot when I’m talking about my art.
I think the point I’m making is that I can’t choose what colour is my favourite.
What is your favorite scent?
River. He smells so nice all the time. I like it best when he uses the shampoo that smells like apples and it’s all sharp and sweet. It’s nice when all the artificial smells wear off, though, like when he’s sweaty or he hasn’t used products in the shower and I can actually smell the smell of River. My favourite part of him is when I put my nose in… What? Why can’t I talk about that? It is my favourite scent after all. It isn’t as if I’m going to go into details about what I do down there… like when I use my tongue to… Alright, Alright… I’ll leave it there. River, River is my favourite scent.
Apart from that… rain. I really like the fresh smell when it’s raining loads. I like to dance in the rain, but River won’t come out with me most of the time. He says I’m weird but I don’t care. I like being weird if it means I can dance in the rain. So what if it’s cold because then, when I come back in, I have a warm shower and mostly River gets in the shower with me and… Alright… Okay… I don’t know what you’re so worried about anyway. You told me to be honest didn’t you? I am NOT sulking.
How far backward can you bend? (LOL)
All the way. I can put my feet on my head. I used to be able to go back further and put my feet on my shoulders but I haven’t been so flexible since I got hurt. River says that I’m a freak for being able to do what I can with my body, but he should have seen me before. It’s been quite hard getting this much flexibility back and I’m determined to go as far as I can, although River doesn’t like it when I use all my skills because he says it’s too much for him. I tease him all the time for not being adventurous enough. He’ll play sometimes and then I can… Oh, not again! Can I say ANYTHING?
And don’t forget who’s supposed to be giving this interview anyway. I don’t see your name on the top of the page.
Coffee, Cocoa or Tea?
What’s Cocoa? Oh, right. Well yeah, I like that, but coffee is my favourite. I like it black with no sugar. I don’t like tea very much, although Hester makes it cold with honey in the summer and that’s really nice so I suppose I like tea too, but I think coffee is my favourite.
Early riser or late to bed?
Both. I don’t sleep very much. I suppose it’s because I was always on call with my Masters and I could be woken at any time, so I guess I got used to staying awake just in case. I tend to nap a lot during the day.
What is your favorite place to be touched?
So, am I allowed to answer this one without interruptions. As long as I’m good? Honey, I’m ALWAYS good. Aw, that hurt.
Actually, the place I like to be touched more than anywhere, is on my hair. No one ever used to touch my hair before. They were too busy touching the rest of me. Sometimes, someone would brush my hair, before a show or something, and I have always loved to brush my hair myself but no one touched it just for the sake of it.
One of my first proper memories of River was him brushing and drying my hair. I like it when I cuddle up to him and he strokes my hair. Of course, it’s a lot shorter now, but that doesn’t matter, it’s the top part that feels nicest. Sometimes, he kind of wriggles his fingers in it and makes little circles on my scalp and it makes me shiver and it gets hard… Sigh, I’m going to ignore that… hard to concentrate and not go to sleep. River says I’m like a cat, but I haven’t really seen a cat so I don’t know what they do
Ideal evening; cuddling or sex?
What do you think? I’m not going to say another word because, if I do, River will hit me again.
On the other hand, I do like cuddling. I like to have a shower and put on the big fluffy bathrobe and snuggle up to River on the sofa. We watch films and talk about all sorts of things. Although, thinking about it, we pretty much always end up having sex anyway so, I suppose – both.
Favorite fabric, silk or fleece?
Silk, it’s cool and soft and makes a really nice noise when it moves, kind of a swishing noise. I like to rub my cheek on it and wrap it around me. When I was with my Master I had a robe I used to wear when I was dancing sometimes. It was all swirly colours and made of silk. I loved the way it felt against my body.
On the other hand, fleece is lovely. When I lie on the big white sheep in front of the fire, it feels like I’m sinking right into it and it’s so warm and comfortable. I like to rub my cheek against that too, and to raise my arms over my head and wriggle so it tickles my body.
From the way he’s looking at me, I know River doesn’t want me to mention this but it’s one of my favourite places to have sex. Don’t look like that, I’m not going into details.
Who is David Willis and how did he affect you?
Apart from River, David is the only man I have ever loved. He was a slave, like me, when we were with my last master. We fell in love but it wasn’t allowed and he… he… well, we didn’t know it wasn’t allowed you see. We’d never been told.
How did he affect me? Well… it’s not easy to talk about but… He was my first love. He was the only thing I can ever remember having loved before River. He opened my heart and, for a long time I couldn’t bear to live in a world that had done something so bad to him. He taught me about true sacrifice, about loving someone so much you’d do anything for them, no matter what it cost.
I think that, without David I would never have left my Master and I would still be there now, not really living, not like this. David make me think, made me feel, made want to break free… to be free to love. In the end it was David who really freed me.
Will you see Robert again? (David's brother)
Of course I will. He’s really nice. I’ve met his dad now, too. It was really hard, in the beginning, to talk about David. The first time we got together and they showed me photographs of him when he was young, I cried a lot and had nightmares about what happened to him. I still have them sometimes, but not so often these days.
He looked so happy in the photographs, as if he didn’t have a care in the world. He still had some of that sweetness when he was with me but he was different, of course, a different person. I wish I’d known him like he was before. I think I would have loved him even more. No… I don’t think it would have been possible to love him more. Sorry River. I know you don’t like it when I talk about being in love with David. No matter what you say, I can see it in your eyes. But I can’t help it. I was in love with him. No, it’s okay River, I’m fine. I can talk about it now, you know that, but it still hurts. It will always hurt.
How do you forgive others for their crimes against you?
I don’t understand what you mean? Oh. Well, I don’t really think about it. I don’t hate them, I never have. Why would I? They’re not part of my life anymore and… well… I don’t really remember the early times, the bad times when they were… you know… training me, and after… Well, sometimes it was hard but…
I don’t know how to explain really. It wasn’t a bad life, you see. I was warm and comfortable and well fed. People were nice to me, on the whole. When I danced I was in another world, a wonderful world where it was only me and the wind and the movement. I loved to use my body to express the way I was feeling and the sense of excitement was the best feeling. It still is when I’m able to dance, although it’s not often these days.
I didn’t know that what I was doing was wrong, not then. When we did shows, I had a really good time, especially when it was just me and David. Our voices went well together and when we… I’m sorry River, but I did… I did have sex with David as part of the show, and I did enjoy it. I’m not ashamed of it, not even now. It was part of my life and it’s a part that’s precious to me because I shared it with David.
Okay, sometimes I didn’t like it when I had to have sex with strangers, because they weren’t always very nice to me, but I don’t hate them, because that’s what I was supposed to do and I guess that’s what they were supposed to do.
I’m not saying that I want to go back to that, but it wasn’t a bad life and so I don’t see there’s anyone
to be angry with, or anything to forgive really.
As for Faith, well… I suppose I might find it hard to forgive him, not because of what he did to me, but because of what he did to River. But he’s gone so there’s no point is there?
I suppose, to be able to say how I forgive I would have to understand it myself and I don’t really… I just do.
What does love mean to you?
River. He is everything to me. He is more important than anyone in the world, even me. I would do anything for him. When I think about him it makes me smile inside, it makes me warm. There is a huge part of me that all wrapped up in River and, if he wasn’t here anymore that part would be a huge hole. I had a hole like that after David died and it didn’t fill up again, until I finally let him go, and he took the emptiness with him.
Love is about sacrifice. It’s about being allowed to be yourself but being part of someone else at the same time. Love is being safe and warm and cared for. Love is about never wanting to have sex with anyone else ever again. No I do NOT keep coming back to sex. No… I don’t think love and sex are the same thing, or even connected at all. I didn’t love any of the men I had sex with when I was a slave and I didn’t love David because we had sex. I was having plenty of that at the time so it wasn’t anything special. Except that it was special because it was with David. I think that’s what love is… something that makes everything special, even things that have always been around, things you haven’t thought twice about before.
Well… let’s face it, I haven’t exactly had a lot of practice with being in love, so it’s the best I can do.
What exactly was your 'job' while you were held in bondage?
I was expected to spend a lot of time taking care of myself – practicing my skills, keeping my body fit, making sure my skin was soft and flawless, taking care of my hair and that kind of things.
I didn’t have any duties around the house at all, although sometimes I’d serve at Master’s dinner parties.
The most important thing I did was the performance. In the beginning it was mostly having sex with people my Masters told me to have sex with, but when they realised what I could really do with my body, they stared to concentrate on the performing.
I used to do a show mostly every night. Sometimes it was just dancing and sometimes singing too.
With my last Master I used to go out to other places to perform and lots of people would come to watch. I liked that, it made me proud. I liked it best when my Master told me how much respect and honour I brought him. He’d take me to his private rooms and sometimes we wouldn’t even have sex; he’d just pet me and let me fall asleep on the cushions or even in his bed sometime. It was lovely to wake up in a proper bed with a warm body and someone’s arms around me. It’s lovelier now it’s River, of course.
What happens at the church that causes such a turnaround in your attitude?
I think that, until then, without realising it, I was feeling guilty about everything that happened. Then, in the church, especially when I was talking to Robert, I realised that, if I didn’t go on, if I didn’t get strong and make a good life, I would be throwing everything he did for me back in his face.
The guilt kind of… well it didn’t go away but it stopped being the most important thing, the thing that makes it hurt most when I think about David. After that, it was easier to think about him and it was easier to want to live. Of course, having River there with me was a huge thing too. He had gone to so much trouble to find Robert, and to arrange the meeting and the painting and everything, I realised that I was being really selfish and I needed to snap out of it and start living in the present and not the past.
It was just a shock that jolted me out of my self-pity I guess.
WOW, is it done? I feels like I’ve been talking about myself for ages. Not that it’s a problem but I figure everyone must be bored by now. Thanks for listening to me rambling. I’m tired now. I still get tired a lot. I’ll probably sleep in the car when River takes me home. Maybe I’ll take a nap on the fleece.
And there you have it. Two very different books, about very different people. I'm very proud of both and enriched by the amazing people they have already brought my way.